JOHN HIATT Riding With The King (1983) +
Warming Up To The Ice Age (1985)

Riding With The King (1983)
Hiatt’s “On-The-Brink Years,” Pt. 1

A lesser man would probably have just given up. By the mid-80s, John Hiatt had already suffered over a decade of audience indifference – releasing 7 albums on 3 labels, without so much as a blip on the charts. His frustration found him frequently shedding his musical skin, trying folk, roots rock & new wave on albums that clicked with fellow musicians (his songs were often hits for others), but not with the public at large. By 1983, Hiatt had succumbed to alcohol addiction, while his marriage was about to end in suicide a year later. Somehow, despite it all, Hiatt managed to record his first great album, Riding With The King. It’s a difficult one to pigeonhole, however, mixing bluesy pop and caustic R&R with a dash of brittle new wave, all filtered though Hiatt’s emerging R&B sensibilities. There are plenty of recognizable influences (Costello, Zevon, Jersey Bruce) mashed by 3 different producers (Nick Lowe, among them) into a surprisingly tough and coherent album. In keeping with tradition, however, Riding With The King didn’t sell for shit, while the title track, a backhanded homage to Elvis Presley, became better known from the 2000 cover by Eric Clapton & BB King. Fun Fact: Hiatt wrote 3 Dog Night’s 1974 hit, “Sure As I’m Sittin‘ Here.” Find it at Amazon, HERE. Get all 6 of Hiatt’s “On-The-Brink” years, HERE.

I Don’t Even Try
Death By Misadventure
Girl On A String
Lovers Will
She Loves The Jerk
Say It With Flowers
Riding With The King
You May Already Be A Winner
Love Like Blood
The Love That Harms
Book Lovers
Falling Up


Warming Up To The Ice Age (1985)
‘s “On-The-Brink Years,” Pt. 3

John Hiatt had hit rock bottom during the recording of Warming Up To The Ice Age – a fantastically rich collection of confessional songs that vaguely chronicled his loves, losses (Hiatt’s wife committed suicide during this period) and out of control spiral into alcohol abuse. Commercially, the album went nowhere. Critics appreciated it but radio had no place for it, and the album earned him only his walking papers from Geffen Records. Yet… despite all that, Ice Age may still be Hiatt’s meatiest work. He had, by this time, abandoned the new wave trappings he had toyed with for years and headed straight towards rock/R&B – with a horn section and a lyrical fragility that belied his hard-drinking persona. On the opening track, “The Usual,” Hiatt confronts his demons head on: “She was good, I was unkind, I’m not thirsty but I’m standing in the line – I’ll have the usual.” Dylan even covered it. Elvis Costello duets on “Living A Little, Laughing A Little.” Despite the unimaginable hardship Hiatt endured during these years, Warming Up To The Ice Age proved both vital and strong. And, after losing his recording contract, Hiatt’s vindication (and sober rebirth) would soon taste sweet. Bring The Family, his acoustic follow-up for A&M, found both an appreciative audience and the charts, initiating a string of Grammy nominations and Billboard successes. Ice Age is at Amazon, HERE. Get all 6 of Hiatt’s “On-The-Brink” years, HERE.

The Usual
The Crush
When We Ran
She Said The Same Things To Me
Living A Little, Laughing A Little
Zero House
Warming Up To The Ice Age
I’m A Real Man
Number One Honest Game
I Got A Gun


  • Capt. Willard
    November 1, 2010 - 21:00 | Permalink

    Get them HERE.

  • Duke!
    April 22, 2012 - 17:06 | Permalink

    Again, thanks. I liked Riding With the King ever since I first heard it, although I knew the different styles all over the recording would be a problem. Good to see he’s getting *some* recognition now (tho certainly not enough).

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